The collective dream of liberation was for the establishment of democracy in the country, and it has to be admitted that there is not much of a difference between proper democracy and secularism. That collective dream has been shattered, to be replaced by one of personal aggrandizement.
This change has been hastened by the despicably heinous act of the assassins of August 15, 1975. Today the people at large are paying for the prosperity of a few. And, very naturally, mainstream politics has become a shameless game of plunder in which the ruling class, the members of which are related to one another by social and even family ties, has engaged in cut-throat competition for the acquisition of land, money and power. “Democracy a much laudable ideal and principle has in effect turned into an instrument of oppression upon the minorities. Based upon the principle of majority rule politics has turned into a game of numbers. Individuals and communities instead of being viewed as human beings are viewed as ?vote banks’ by the political parties. ( Access of Justice for Religious Minorities in a Muslim State by Prof. Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed Rights of Religious Minorities in South Asia) Rule of law and citizens’ rights become the first casualty of a system run by an elite that does not distinguish between party and people’s interests, that cares little about popular support, and that vests all power on an individual. But it is possible when Prime Minister’s clarion call for ‘.Bangladesh is your motherland, you were born here.
You have rights. Why would anyone evict you?’
Every day we are getting information from rural Bangladesh that margilarised Hindus are victim of land grabbing, humiliated, rape and conversion to Islam of minor Hindu girls. Last night three aggrieved families came to see me from Muksudpur under Prime Minister’s constituency at Gopalganj Mrs Sulata Rani Mandal , Dignagar of Mukshedpur ( filed case with ADC office vide no 401 dated 27 April 2014 ) explained their torture, humiliation, land grabbing by Arshaful Zaman S/o Razakar Kaishar mia alies Mohiuddin (Mukshedpurer Muktijuddha,Foroz Khan, p- 108 ) family member has been threatened their lives . Uttam Banerjee, of Maheswardi, Rajoir under Madaripur district has submitted repeated application to the land administration ( vide order Dhaka Division Commission’s no- 13-S/A-5/ 2003-511 ;Land Ministry memo no-/ Sha-4/Misc-94/2004-450 and so on ) regarding relief from land grabbers by fictitious document. ADC (Rev) office of Madaripur is reluctant to take any steps against the land grabber. The land official has been more political than politician , they behalf like political activists .
Disturbed Hindus do not get any relief or justice, rule of law. One Mr.Nitai Chakraborty S/0 Ganesh Chakraborty of Kanuria Mukshudpur filed case of release his ancestral property from VP(Kh) list under section 14 ( Kha) , but Local land officials including Tahsildar Razzaque Mridha in connivance of Awami political goons ‘begging gratis and took money too’ are spoiling Sheikh Hasina’s good efforts of transferring the property to the owner. As she said, ‘The scrapping of Section 14 (kha) of the Vested Property Act had dispelled the complexities over such properties of Hindus. But the Deputy commission of Gopalgani Mr Khalilur Rahman asked these disturbed Hindus to approach before President of the Republic to show their grievances told Uttam Banerjee, a field worker of HRCBM. They all applied to the Bangladesh Land secretary against those grabbers and wondering different human rights organization and places for justice. We too, also get reports that the land administration like AC land and Tahasilders in the field are demanding high stake of 12 lacs for mutation, transferring land under VP Act ( Kha ) list. The district administration changed the land record of Devuttar Property and put as Khas land (Khatian no 1 of DC custody and some cases lease out to Muslims lease .Then, the question arises, “Who Governs the land administration?”
In this August of 2014, we could recall the Radio Broadcast of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman when reiterated, same appeal before birth of Bangladesh over four and half decades ago “We must believe in the equality of all citizens. The members of the minority community should know that we have always stood against every form of communalism. They shall enjoy equal rights with all other citizens in all walks of life. Our brothers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, in the offshore islands and the coastal areas, require special assistance to develop their latent resources in order to enable them to play their rightful part in our national life.” ( Election Radio Speech on 28 October 1970). After 43 years of independence, Sheikh Hasina asked.”We expect you to live here with your rights maintaining a firm hold.” Why Bangladesh, which was born as a democratic and secular state, switched over again to an Islamic state is perplexing because the fierce fight against the two nation theory based on religious fundamentalism was the core of the Bangladeshis liberation movement. The same Bangladeshis, who fought for 25 years, sacrificed over Three million people and achieved liberation, moved back on the same track of radicalism within four years of its grand success. In view of Bangladesh’s bidding good-bye to secularism and switching over to fundamentalism and ultimately embracing terrorism, the plight of Hindus and other minorities there has become miserable.
I do not want to go for describing why targeted violence happened in Bangladesh? My observation is different focusing on empowerment of religious minorities in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh Constitution in ‘Part-III – Fundamental Rights’ has exhaustively provided not only for equality of all citizens irrespective of their religion but has also provided special provisions for protecting the rights of minorities in respect of their religion, language and culture.’ Minorities in Bangladesh have been facing woes of VP laws and its differential treatment upon them. The constitution upholds the fundamental rights of all citizens, but in practice unequal application of laws make it meaningless. However, the guarantee for ‘jaan and maal’ (life and property) is important for the survival of any people. They are not even empowered to sustain in crisis. Thus, any violation of the rights of the minority by the State could be challenged in a court of law. As a member of the religious minority Hindu, a freedom fighter in the liberation war and a retired civil servant, and human rights organiser we have nothing to conceal that the widespread perceptions of discrimination among the minorities in Bangladesh need to be addressed. What has to be worried about is that minority issues are very sensitive whenever such problems exist.
All these targeted Violence is unending tale of Bangladesh Hindus. ‘Nineteen forty –seven is now history. Nineteen seventy-one is a distant past. The Hindu community must come out of the trap of alienation and refuse to lend itself as a pawn in politics’. (Holiday, Friday, November 23, 2001) Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked minority Hindu community in Bangladesh to be firm in demanding their rights and join hands in nation building with the spirit of non-communalism, reports the statesman on 25 Aug 2014.
So Bangladesh Hindus want rights, justice and rule of law for survival. It is obvious that security and safety of minority communities do not depend only on the goodwill of majority community and safeguard ensured in the fine paper of the Constitution.
The confidence of the minority would be ensured in Bangladesh if due representation of the community in the field of all decision –making institutions of the Republic. I.e. representation of minority in the Parliament, Administration, Army, Police, Judicial and Foreign services as well as public offices at all level is effectively ensured. As it created in India a separate ‘minority affairs ministry’ in 2006,the Government of Bangladesh will have to create a new specialized Ministry by exercising of the power conferred by Article 55(6) Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh , just to ensure a focused approach towards issues relating to the minorities and to facilitate the formulation of overall policy, planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities.
It is imperative that if the minorities have certain perceptions of being aggrieved, all efforts should be made by the State to find a mechanism by which these complaints could be attended to expeditiously. It is our appeal that the Government of Bangladesh should ensure justice to the Minorities to uphold religious rights of minorities with broader perspective to help secure fair religious and equal access to justice, and Devuttur Property Bill-2013 (Endowment Act) which is lying with government over a year need to be tabled in the parliament. While equity in the implementation of programmes and better participation of the Community in the development process would gradually eliminate this perception of discrimination, there is a need to strengthen the legal Provisions to eliminate such cases.
Rabindranath Trivedi is a Freedom Fighter, founder member of Bangladesh Secretariat, Mujibnagar Government in 1971, Retired Addl. Secretary (OSD), Additional Press Secretary to The Prime Minister (1997-1999) and Press Secretary to the President of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (1999-2001). Secretary General, HRCBM- Bangladesh Chapter, An NGO in special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the United Nations.